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An unpaid traffic fine won't cause Californians to lose their license thanks to a new law starting next month.
Gov. Jerry Brown said punishing drivers by taking away their license doesn't help the state collect the unpaid fines and pushes low-income people into a cycle of job losses and even more poverty.
The policy is meant to help keep people's lives from being derailed by a traffic ticket according to the Van Nuys Democrat state Senator Bob Hertzberg. The provision was part of a series of bills Brown signed on Tuesday to enact the state's new budget. According to the new law, courts are prevented from suspending someone's driver's license because of unpaid fines.
Brown said the practice made no sense and that "there does not appear to be a strong connection" between suspending a person's license and collecting the fines. In his January budget proposal, Brown wrote that oftentimes, the consequence of taking the license away also takes away the person's ability to earn money or take their children to school.
According to data from the California Department of Motor Vehicles, around 488,000 people had suspended driver's licenses for unpaid traffic tickets or missing court appearances.
The new law does not affect people whose licenses are already suspended for failing to pay fines.
Courts are still able to suspend licenses for other infractions like failing to appear in court.